This weekend i was privileged enough to go to Portsmouth diocese to attend the ‘Called and Gifted’ workshop hosted by Sherry Weddell. Sherry’s book ‘Forming intentional disciples’ was described by Bishop Egan as being “…one of the most important books regarding evangelisation in modern times.” I totally agree with him and very much recommend getting yourself a copy (in brief, it speaks about the vast majority of practising Catholics today that do not have a personal relationship with Christ – and then sets out the 5 stages that people go through in order to become an ‘intentional disciple’.)
Bishop Egan has become my new hero! Firstly for recognising and admitting that this issue is a reality for the Catholics he is responsible for, and secondly for actually doing something about it. My real hope is that other Bishops in the UK will see the success, renewal, and change that is coming out of Portsmouth diocese and will decide to follow its example.
While the workshop was primarily about discerning our own personal charisms, the overwhelming feeling i (and many others) have been left with is one of hope for the Catholic Church in the UK. For many, many years now the faith in the UK has been watered down and compromised, resulting in the loss of the real truth, beauty and spirituality of Catholicism. We now have Parishes and Diocese that are ‘maintained’ rather than built up, and a retention rate that is so poor it is embarrassing. Ask yourselves: How many babies got baptised in our parish this year? How many young adults were confirmed? And how many parishioners do we have in their 20’s?
Why are they not sticking around?!!
This is of course due to many factors – the main two being the pressures of our militant secular culture and the failure of the church to effectively transmit the faith. Instead of remaining confident and secure in the fact that the church is naturally counter cultural and that Jesus was a peaceful rebel who remained entirely truthful and faithful unto death, many in positions of authority have allowed a comfy cosy church to exist that just keeps everyone happy and keeps things ticking over.
It seems that the central focus in most diocese today is on keeping the parishioners happy rather than on God Himself. (There are also those who purposefully seek to advance the Church forward in a ‘progressive’ way. I wont go into that now – the only thing i will say about that is: What are you progressing away from, and towards?)
Anyway, back to my original point – hope. How many people in your parish would you say were in a 100% committed, passionate, and genuine relationship with Jesus Christ?
Now just imagine that Everyone in your parish was in a 100% committed, passionate, and genuine relationship with Jesus Christ. Imagine that everyone knew their gifts talents and charisms and used them effectively for the the greater glory of God. What difference would that make to the life of your parish? It has been done in the USA. It can be done here. It IS being done here in Portsmouth Diocese. Keep your eyes on this Diocese and on Bishop Egan, and watch in the video below how he is leading the way in the new evangelisation in the UK. THIS is the church i want my children growing up in. Thank You God!!!